$1+ Billion Recovered


A judge is a lawyer who has left the private practice of law to serve the public as a judicial officer. A judge is like a referee. She/he makes decisions as to matters of law. She/he decides what evidence may be heard. She/he controls the process of a trial to ensure that it is fair and unbiased. Judges instruct the jury on the law that the jury must follow. Judges must be fair to both sides. They are not allowed to act as judges in cases to which they have some relationship or in which they have an interest in the outcome. Judges are paid a salary by the government through our taxes. In some cases, there is no jury in a trial. This is called a bench trial (where the judge sits is referred to as a bench). In that case, the judge acts not only as the individual who decides which laws apply, but she/he also acts as the ultimate trier of fact, or fact finder.The difference between a judge and jury can be summarized by a basketball analogy. The law is that when you shoot from outside the key and make a basket, it is three points. That is an issue of law that the judge would declare; under what conditions three points are awarded. A judge would state what the law is and instruct a jury that if it finds that the shot was made outside the key, the jury should award three points. The jury is the fact finder. It would watch the game or replay (the evidence) and then deliberate (discuss) what it thinks the evidence showed as to whether the shot was made inside or outside of the key. The jury then arrives at a decision called a verdict. In state court, there are usually 12 jurors. Only three-fourths of them have to agree to reach a verdict in a civil case. In federal court, there are usually fewer jurors, such as six. In federal court, you must obtain a unanimous verdict (all jurors must agree).

The judge makes rulings on evidence. A lawyer, believing that the other side is seeking to introduce evidence that is not reliable or should otherwise be prohibited from introduction to the jury, may object, thereby asking a judge to block that evidence from being heard or seen by the jury. A judge rules on those objections, either sustaining the objection (upholding it and blocking the evidence) or overruling it and allowing the evidence to “come in” and be presented to the jury. A judge is supposed to follow the rules of evidence enacted by the Legislature through various codes such as the Evidence Code and the Code of Civil Procedure.

If a person believes that he or she did not receive a fair trial, that a judge made an error of law, or that the evidence did not support the verdict, that person can file an appeal with an appellate court. The appellate court has no jury. It does not decide matters of fact (generally), but deals only with matters of law, reviewing lower court rulings to see if they conform to established legal principles. If the appellate court agrees with the lower court, the decision is affirmed. If the appellate court disagrees, then the ruling or verdict is overturned and the matter is remanded, sent back, to the trial court for further proceedings and/or retrial.

Trials are expensive, time-consuming processes that are often emotionally draining for both sides. Juries, judges and verdicts are unpredictable. That is why, when possible, settlement rather than trial is often preferred by many. The Dolan Law Firm lawyers have the highest rating as trial lawyers and have consistently produced some of the highest verdicts and settlements in California for their clients.

Contact the Dolan Law Firm for a free case evaluation by calling 888-452-4752 or emailing us.

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